How to Write Jump Cuts in a Screenplay

jump cuts in screenplays

Jump cuts are something we usually see only in a film. They are sometimes referred to as quick cuts or montages.

They’re a way of sending information to the audience at a rapid pace, cutting from one action to another, jumping forward in time. One second the character is packing his bangs the next, he’s on a train out of there. 

How would you write this?

How do you write jump cuts in a screenplay? You write jump cuts in a screenplay by writing “CUT TO:” as an editing direction on the right-hand side of your script. Then you write the new action or location below in a new line. 

Jump Cut Example:

John rushes to pack his duffle bag full of anything in eyes view. 
                                                          CUT TO:
Books fly into the bag.
                                                          CUT TO:
Old shoes get stuffed in on top. 
                                                          CUT TO:
John holds a gun. He handles it with care, placing it in the front duffle pocket. 

Every “CUT TO:” shows something different being done to this bag until we get to an object distinct from the rest. Which then stops the rapid pace of action by John. 

If you want just to have one jump cut in your scene, one CUT TO: works for this also.


John rushes to pack his duffle bag full of anything in eyes view. 
                                                          CUT TO:
John is slumped over his bag snoring. 

Now, this is one way of doing it that I’ve seen reading screenplays, but like every screenplay guideline, there are multiple ways of jump-cutting in scripts. 

We were cutting in between both people, and then we reintroduced the Johns scene heading to a serious note. 

Jump Cuts in a Screenplay Examples

Lets look at some examples from professional scripts.

One of my favorite examples of a jump cut is in the film Reservoir Dogs. Written and directed by Quentin Tarentino.

Reservoir Dogs Script (1990)

One great way to use jump cuts is to surprise your reader with an insane amount of action from mundane conversation. The contrast here is impressive.

How professional screenwriters use it.

Another example is from a comedy movie, The 40-year-old Virgin.

During these jump cuts, they indicate that these are quick quicks. And they used the speed dating buzzer to cycle between the dates instead of CUT TO.

40-year-old Virgin Movie (2005)

Now its time to hear from you:

Did I miss anything?

What did you learn about jump cuts?

How do you plan on using it in your scripts?

Whatever your answer is, let’s hear it in the comments below.

Happy writing.

How to Write Jump Cuts in a Screenplay
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